The Power of a Deadline

Quotes about deadlines With everyone struggling to fit more into their days, time becomes currency. I belong to a babysitting co-op where time is literally currency; we trade babysitting for time credit, paying for services with time.

I know many of the writers here are juggling fledgling careers with other life pursuits, and our deadlines can be more self-imposed than set-in-stone. Time management for writers can mean pulling out the laptop during a movie night or holing up in the kitchen while pretending to do dishes for a few extra minutes.

Every once in a while, an actual deadline presents itself in the form of a contest entry or submission date. Last Monday I raced to polish up a piece for my real-life writing group.

What I submitted for concrit and suggestions was neither beautiful nor finished nor even fully conceptualized, but I felt strongly about having it submitted to my partners on time, with the intention of meeting this Monday evening. Without concrete deadlines I sometimes feel my writing floating adrift on the space in my head where characters bounce from cloud to cloud, sprinkling tidbits of writing magic between sentences and dancing around and through plots instead of getting anything finished.

This Val Kilmer quote is exactly the reason I pushed myself to meet my deadline: “Without deadlines and restrictions I just tend to become preoccupied with other things.”

One of our group members missed the deadline and promised it by a later date and missed that one and missed it again. There’s part of me that wants to say it’s not a big deal. That I’ll read what gets sent when it’s sent. Because, truly, I understand that life gets in the way and that everyone is busy.

But then I remember a deadline is more than an arbitrary date. It’s a way to shape a schedule and a way for everyone involved to figure out how to spend our time. Missing that deadline more than once or twice or three times is just another way of saying my time isn’t as valuable as someone else’s.

And that is a big deal.

Do deadlines help your writing? Do you have them with a writing group?


4 Responses to The Power of a Deadline
  1. Brianna
    December 10, 2012 | 11:57 am

    Deadlines help me immensely, especially when they come from other people, but I’m going to be better about self-imposed deadlines in the new year. I’ve been slacking on my writing the last few weeks after the stress of NaNo, but I’m working on goal-setting and will be getting back into it soon.

  2. Amy Whitley
    December 10, 2012 | 11:58 am

    Absolutely. I believe in deadlines (my own or external) 100%. No one’s going to take you seriously unless first, YOU do.

  3. SAM
    December 10, 2012 | 12:29 pm

    Oh yes. Deadlines are powerful for me, some more than others, but I get overstressed sometimes and have to let them go occasionally.

  4. Patricia Royal
    December 10, 2012 | 2:02 pm

    I do not get along with deadlines at all. Recently I agreed to write a short story for an anthology and the deadline is set around Christmas. When I sit down to try to write the story or even think about getting to the story, all I can focus on is the deadline. It hinders me that much. This is why self publishing works great for me because I don’t have a deadline hanging over me. I can set dates to get stuff done, but the pressure of a deadline isn’t there to derail me.